Our Recent Points Trip “Babycation” to Tucson’s J.W. Marriott Starr Pass Resort

Tucson Starr Pass Resort

We just about had this beautiful place to ourselves.

Mrs. PT does a fantastic job taking care of our family – the two girls and I – day in and day out. Since we’re about to bring a new member of the family into the world, we figured it was time for a babymoon getaway (i.e. a little pre-“babycation”). Or, as Mrs. PT and I like to joke, “baby cat”.

I picked Tucson because it was a short flight and somewhere we hadn’t really explored before. It was also warm. The winter in Dallas has been brutal. As fate would have it, it turned 70 degrees here in Dallas just before we left for our trip. Oh well, Tucson was in the 80s. Here’s how the trip was purchased.

Free Hotel Stay – J.W. Marriott Starr Pass Resort

The hotel, two nights at the J.W. Marriott Starr Pass Resort (Category 6), was booked with 60,000 Marriott Rewards points, earned by booking FinCon at the New Orleans Marriott this year (event sales personnel often throw this perk in to encourage a quick sign up). Additional taxes and resort fees totaled $68. The quickest way to pick up Marriott Rewards points if you aren’t an event planner like me is probably to sign up for one of their reward cards. The Premier card will get you 50K right out of the gate.

Free Airfare – American Airlines and Southwest

Our flight (coach) was booked with 30,000 British Airways Avios (transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards, and earned mostly through my Chase credit cards – personal and business). Additional fee from BA was $10. If you’re not already familiar with the Chase Ultimate Rewards to British Airways Avios transfer options, you need to explore that – especially if you live near an American Airlines hub like me.

The flight to bring my parents in from Branson to watch the kids was booked with 16,856 Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards (these points were earned by Mrs. PT getting a signup bonus for the Southwest Airlines Chase card. Additional Southwest fee of $10. I just signed up for a couple of Southwest cards myself (details coming in my next App Party post), and will be shooting for the Companion Pass. The Wright Amendment sunsets this year, opening up a lot of options for flying Southwest out of Dallas. Mrs. PT just likes Southwest more anyway.

Car Rental – Enterprise

I booked with Enterprise through Kayak.com, which totaled $58 for three days. I probably could have booked with points, but I didn’t think this price could be beat. The car was clean and fuel-efficient.

Babymoon Getaway Summary

The Starr Pass Resort was probably one of my favorite hotel stays ever. The weather and outdoor scene had a lot to do with this. We were able to stay poolside (three pools including a lazy river) for a large portion of our stay. Also, the restaurants all had open patios. So we basically dined under the stars each night. Not once was I too cold or too hot. To say it was ideal outdoor weather is an understatement.

The resort has a lot of activities that I’m sure we’ll take advantage of on another trip: hiking, biking, golfing, horseback riding, etc. I made a promise to Mrs. PT that we’d bring the kiddos back again one day.

Total out of pocket spend (minus food, fuel, and airport parking) was less than $150. Not bad for three days and two nights chillin’ by the pool and dining under the stars.

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About Philip Taylor, CPA

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a CPA, blogger, podcaster, husband, and father of three. PT is also the founder and CEO of the personal finance industry conference and trade show, FinCon. He created this website back in 2007 to share his advice on money, hold himself accountable (while paying off over $75k in debt), and to meet others passionate about moving toward financial independence. He uses Personal Capital to track his wealth. All the content on this blog is original and created or edited by PT.


  1. brokeandbeau says

    That’s some seriously impressive travel hacking.  I just signed up for my first major rewards credit card, I’m hoping I can start hacking some awesome vacations soon!